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Nietzsche Criticism of Freud's PessimismEssay

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Sigmund Freud, Pessimism and the Neitzchean Alternative

Describe why and how Freud's theories commit him to his characteristically pessimistic view of the human condition. Then, consider how Nietzsche would critique Freud's view and why he himself is instead so optimistic about the possibility of our future happiness.

Throughout his work, Sigmund Freud is generally pessimistic and constantly emphasizes the suffering of humans and their inability to have any personal power over the negative forces around them. He states that it is only by a narrow margin and luck that the people escape the arrows and the slings that come towards them. Freud in this context is speaking about the misfortunes, the diseases, and the accidents that a human comes across in his or her life, even to those who are extra-careful (Nietzsche, 2006).

According to Freud, the beliefs and values that are the main source of the formation of our behavior in reality comes from civilization. In Genealogy of Morals, comparing the example of 'logic of the lamb' by Nietzche with Freud's argument, a bird of prey has to act according to the nature he is born with and eats his prey like a lamb eats grass. The bird acts like that because the lambs cannot perform any action to stop it and the bird likes to eat it. However, the lamb, who is in the weaker category, convinces the bird that it is immoral to eat them; the bird whose nature is to prey on the lambs, controls itself and listens to what the lamb has to say. By listening, he becomes convinced, stops eating the lamb, and instead starts eating grass instead. However, by doing that, the bird is not able to live a good life and will not be able to satisfy its needs (Nietzsche, 2006)

Many differences can be seen from comparison of the example given by Nietzsche and the theory of Freud; however, the interesting similarity in both is that the dominant group acquires the sense of morality. According to Nietzsche, the weaker category has no other way of protecting themselves, but to instill into the minds of the stronger group that what they are doing is immoral, and that giving them less pain would not be immoral. However, Freud would state that the ego keeps check of the actions, and the guilty feelings experienced are instilled from the development of civilization. Freud also provides good advice when he says that a person struggles to stay happy, and does this by different negative and positive desires to gain pleasure in life. Freud also says that a man must be involved in different activities that provide him pleasure and a happy life. We can say that civilization and its development allows individuals to achieve a diversity of pleasures (Nietzsche, 2006).

This situation can also be assessed by looking at principles of economics such as comparative advantage and specialization. A person before civilization enjoyed freedom as long as he was able to do so, but there was no fixed time as to when he got to enjoy that freedom. Freud says pre-civilization men would meet women, fulfill their sexual desires, and then leave them. This was similar to the manner of a guest who would pay for a visit and then simply leave. Men of the early ages, according to Freud, would do other things in order to keep themselves alive as well. At that time, the primitive man would not have any other activities such as those of the present times, for example art. Specialization today has given man a lot of free time which provides him an opportunity to do things that gives him pleasure. Giving an example, a person who is very good at making tables would spend most of his time in making them; then later, he would trade a table to another person who specializes in growing of corn. According to the theory, both of them should be happy because both of them achieved both things in a reasonable price. However, the question becomes whether or not these things provide him constant personal satisfaction. If not, then that would mean the death of the person. However, there exist other things as well that can substitute for it and help to lead a good and happy life. If we consider Freud's theory to be correct, then all of us are doomed to suffer once we are born, however we can also do things that give us pleasure and happiness and distribute it to enjoy life (Nietzsche, 2006).

Furthermore, the community has a similar relationship with its members as of the creditor and the debtor. A person living in the community enjoys all the benefits of a sheltered and protected life, without thinking about what the man outside the shelter might be going through. A person living in the community makes a promise to protect the community; if he does not fulfill that, he is required to pay, due to the credit system. A law breaker in this respect is considered a debtor who has failed to pay and repay. From that point onwards, the debtor is not only deprived of the benefits of the community, but also is reminded of their importance. The anger of all this rises up inside the man and he is considered a cast out. He is punished for his failure to pay, and at that level, the punishment is just a copy of the actual behavior towards a disarmed and hated enemy. The vaevictis explains that war has provided civilization with different forms of punishment (Nietzsche, 2006).

How Nietzsche would critique Freud's view and why he himself is instead so optimistic about the possibility of our future happiness

The positive moral views of Nietzsche are understood best by combining a concept of human perfection and his theory of Good. Nietzche in the book attacks 'morality' for the commitment to empirical and metaphysical claims regarding human actions, as well as the impact of its different values and norms on the types of higher men. Nietzsche does not allow his critique to distort his optimist vision, but his attitudes regarding equality are clear. Nietzsche's main aim is to free the 'higher man' from his invalid perceptions concerning morality, not to transform society entirely.

Nietzsche does not entirely criticize morality, but rather embraces an idea of higher morality that would inform the moral lives of higher men. He also does not narrow down his views and critiques on morality to specific individuals involved in historical, social, philosophical and religious works. Thus it would be inappropriate and untrue to say that Nietzsche only attacks Europeans, Kantians or Christians. Nietzsche believes that the normative system has structural traits that include both normative and descriptive characteristics. These characteristics pre-regulate a certain descriptive form of the agency of humans in a sense that the system includes intelligent applications, particularly empirical and metaphysical claims. He feels that the norm of the system favors some people's interest over others (Nietzsche, 2006).

Nietzsche in his critique exposes his opinion of the origin of a man's conscience and calls it a bad one; this is completely opposite to Freud's concept of the ego. Neitzsche discusses primitive times when a man had no ethical views and lived with a nature of an animal. The man with morality at first conceived the importance of fulfilling promises, an action that tells about his future and his existence as well. In primitive times, promises that took pace only existed between equals; this was a responsibility or duty towards fellow warriors and immediate families, but not towards people of a lesser level. This requires a good memory, the ability to keep promises, but Nietzsche thinks his explanation is complete. He states that conscience is a 'late fruit of the memory tree'. In those times, morality only consisted of fulfilling promises; this was also considered to be an honor as well as a duty or obligation towards those for whom the promise was intended (Nietzsche, 2006).

This relationship, according to Nietzsche, is the oldest one between a buyer and a seller and establishes a form of state. Punishment that was developed on this relationship gave the creditors the power to create violence upon debtors, which was also the origin of the feelings of conscience and guilt. 'Justice' (Duhring, 1882) according to Nietzsche, is the only way to take revenge from the debtors for what damage they have caused to the creditor. This is like the Biblical 'An eye for an eye'. This realization gives birth to justice, objectivity, goodwill, kindness; thus commensurateness (or reasonableness) and mutuality replaces the individuality of actions. The unique actions become a new standard for social behavior, rather than simple reactions, governed by the instinct of an animal (instead of the 'eye for an eye' act of justice).

Nietzsche unfortunately does not explain how these claims lead to goodwill and kindness from justice. However, instead of that, he focuses on critique of the state, and says that the state emerged in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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